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Glass lampwork beads are all handmade, so when you buy in quantity from your wholesaler, you may see slight variations from bead to bead. Lampworked beads are the most labor intensive of all glass beads, and so, you'll see they cost more. These beads were once painstakingly created over hot oil lamps, which is how they come by their name. Today, most bead makers use gas torches, and so often, today's lampworked beads are also known as "fireworked" beads. These glass beads are often hand decorated too, or they can have a finish fired on in a kiln. They come in a wide variety of shapes and colors, and are available from just about any large bead wholesaler.
You might wonder why some dealers carry Bohemian glass beads, while others carry Czech glass beads. Bohemian beads and Czech beads are really one in the same, with two different names. Bohemia is simply an archaic name for the Czech Republic. Glassmaking in Bohemia and Czechoslovakia is an ancient art. Most of these beads are molded glass, rather than hand blown or fired. In effect, these beads are molded or pressed in a large machine. Because they are machine made, they are one of the least expensive types of glass beads.
Czech glass beads have become increasingly acclaimed, and the Czechs make some of the best seed beads around. However, they aren't the only Europeans to make outstanding glass beads. The Italians have been making glass beads for centuries, and both Venetian and Murano glass beads are beautiful examples of their work. Many wholesalers carry both types of beads, while others may lump them together under the title "Italian" glass beads. Both bead types are lampworked beads, which gives them rich colors and designs. Many also include gold or silver foil inside the bead which reflects and catches the light.
Marea finish is similar to an AB coating, in that it is applied to a variety of bead 'base colors'. Marea finish will appear pink to gold, depending on the source of light and the color of bead underneath. It is most commonly found on glass beads from the Czech Republic ("Czech Glass").
India glass beads can be a less expensive alternative to other types of glass beads. India glass beads can be handmade, but many today are mass produced. They come in a variety of colors and sizes, and many dealers sell them mixed in lots. Some wholesalers find these Indian beads are not quite as lustrous as some other glass beads, and they can have size variations, too. These beads also have larger holes than many other glass beads, so they are particularly good for beginning glass beaders.
Many wholesalers sell glass beads in colorful mixes that can help spark your creativity and stock your empty bead containers at the same time. Often, wholesalers will sell a glass bead mix by the pound or hank. They usually contain a wide variety of colors and shapes of the same kinds of beads (such as seed beads, Indian beads, or Czech rondelles, for example). Purchasing in bulk like this helps keep the cost of the beads down – savings you can pass on to your customers. Many of these mixes also contain beads that work perfectly as spacers in many projects, too.
Czech glass beads are some of the highest quality glass beads made, and the same can be said for their glass lampwork beads. That makes them extremely expensive, even wholesale. To compete, many dealers also carry lampwork beads created in China, India, and other countries. These beads are handmade too, and extremely beautiful. Some wholesalers sell these beads threaded on temporary strands, while others sell them individually or in groups. Look for a wholesaler that carries a wide variety of lampwork beads made in different countries for the best prices and selection.
Glass beads are fragile, and many are a real investment, too, so storing them safely is important. Most dealers carry storage trays, bags, and containers, so finding the right solution for glass beads is part personal preference. Remember that glass beads with facets can be sharp, so store them separately from other beads. Also, larger glass beads can be stored individually in small plastic bags to protect them. Many people also use small prescription containers or even breath mint containers to store some of their most expensive beads!
Glass beads come in a wide range of colors and styles, perfect for creating many popular jewelry styles. While many glass bead types are available, some of the best made beads are made in the Czech Republic: "Czech Glass". As with all other glass beads and jewelry supplies, you can find Czech glass beads online. They come in several styles including fire polished, pressed and machine cut and they come in every shape and size imaginable. No matter what look and feel you are going for in your bead jewelry, Czech glass beads have a style that will probably work for you.
If you're looking for some really whimsical glass beads that are extremely simple to use, ask your wholesaler for India loop glass beads. These beads come complete with a brass loop set in into the top of the bead. This loop is ready for stringing, wiring, or mounting on a chain. You can use these glass beads as charms, small necklaces, and even pendants with some of the larger beads. They come in many shapes, colors, and sizes, some transparent and others opaque. Some dealers also carry handy mixtures of these glass beads, so you can mix and match several different beads in your designs.
Some especially beautiful beads are made by lampworking, an ancient art of manipulating glass in a flame. You should consider glass lampwork beads to accent your bead jewelry. Lampwork beads are available to both the high end jewelry maker and the bead hobbyist. Some exquisite (and very expensive) handmade Lampwork beads are made in the United States by artists - many of the beads are "one of a kind". Their cost may be prohibitive, but if you are making a special piece, you should consider finding one of these individual and beautiful pieces of art. For the beginner, or for someone with less money to throw at their jewelry making hobby, there are also affordable Lampwork beads made by crafts people in India and China.
When you purchase hand blown or lampworked beads from your dealer make sure the beads have undergone the annealing process. Annealing is essentially heating the finished piece of glass and then allowing it to remain at a certain temperature until the entire piece reaches the same temperature. Then it slowly cools. Annealing ensures your handmade bead will not shatter or crack during a temperature change. If your dealer cannot tell you if your glass beads have been annealed or not, then look for another supplier who knows how their glass beads are created.